Sometimes, looking at things from a sideways angle is helpful...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Class and Class

I've had an odd class-related upbringing, that I don't want to go into depth about, but suffice it to say that at the end of it all, I'm middle class. My parents had middle class jobs, I went to state school but we could afford opportunities for me without needing to scrimp and save elsewhere. My parents always knew where the money for the next meal was coming from. As I said, I'm middle class. My parents were always wage slaves however, working jobs they hated to make money to live on. My mother worked in the public sector and my father for a charity. In that sense, they're working class.

Working class because we are not part of the boss class, we do not control the assets, we are not a family that employs people, runs businesses, owns the means of production.

Middle class because we've never struggled to have money for food, or reasonable opportunities.

I believe the left needs to differentiate between the two types of working class better, because there are two. Yes, the type of working-middle class I come from needs liberation from the capitalist overlords, but at the same time there is class privilege, and I certainly have it. By claiming that we are all the same, in terms of being working class, because we're all controlled by the capitalists we deny the realities of people who don't know where their next meal, or their next month's rent comes from. Whilst bringing down capitalism is definitely on my to-do list, so is saving the welfare system that catches in its net the people who need it  the most. These two things are not mutually exclusive and to say we should simply protest capitalism and not the cuts is ignoring the reality of many.

There's an essay that I'll write on this at some point, rather than a scattered blog post, but I'll end this with a plea - when you're talking about the working class, in terms of the people who are not in the ruling class, please remember that there are many many people in that working class with a lot of class privilege, and the realities inherent in being from a family where food, and shelter, are constant concerns are very different from the middle class upbringing I've been privileged to have.

It is not our right to appropriate that experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment